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Type: SC Judgements


Electoral Reforms In India Indian Polity

So what’s the big deal about advancing the Budget, asks SC

  1. Issue: A PIL petition had sought the postponement of the annual Budget till after the elections are over
  2. Why? It could contain sops to influence the voters in the Assembly elections, and was thus a violation of the poll code
  3. The Supreme Court: It found nothing wrong in the government’s move to advance the presentation of the Union Budget in Parliament by almost a month, on February 1, amid the run-up to the elections in five States
  4. ‘So what provision of law is violated by this statement? What provision of the Indian Constitution is violated here?’

Note4students:

Revise basics of budget. Do understand the pros and cons of advancing the budget date. This can be a question in mains or probably interview too. And also go into other budget reforms like doing away with plan and non-plan expenditure, merging of rail budget with Union budget.

Land Acquisition: Issues and Challenges Governance

Cash for land is just not done: SC

  1. Supreme Court: Agreed to hear the plight of the landless victims of the Sardar Sarovar Project in detail
  2. It observed that giving cash instead of land to farmers who lost their fertile lands to the mega dam project is “tentatively” not acceptable
  3. Issue: As per the Narmada Tribunal Award and the Supreme Court verdicts, all adult sons were indisputably entitled to five acres of cultivable and irrigable land, and any discrimination would lead to the violation of the constitutional rights of the oustees.
  4. However, the farmers are left with neither land nor livelihood despite there being binding orders from the Supreme Court upholding their right to land
  5. Earlier: SC had also dismissed an application by the Madhya Pradesh government and the Narmada Valley Development Authority for a modification of the apex court judgments of 2000 and 2005 upholding land rights for adult sons of the Sardar Sarovar Project-affected farmers

Note4students:

This can be cited as an example in essay on development.

Electoral Reforms In India Indian Polity

Money power may come under EC lens

  1. What: In a bid to check money power from influencing elections, the Election Commission (EC) suggests bringing under its scanner the sources of income of not only candidates but also their family members
  2. The EC, in an affidavit filed in the SC, said the Representation of the People Act should be amended
  3. Under the amended Act, the disqualification for entering into govt contracts should not be limited to just the candidates but also companies, trusts, firms, Hindu Undivided Family, etc
  4. The panel said the changes recommended in the law were meant as an antidote to “maladies caused by criminal antecedents of candidates and misuse of money”
  5. The affidavit was based on a PIL filed by an NGO called Lok Prahari
  6. The EC said it had already conveyed these recommendations to the govt in Sept 2015
Parliament – Reforms, Ordinances, Policy Paralysis and more Indian Polity

SC widens boundaries of judicial review of ordinance

  1. What: In a blow to Ordinance Raj, a Constitution Bench of the SC widened the boundaries of judicial review
  2. Judgment: Now, it can examine whether the President or the Governor was spurred by an “oblique motive” to bypass the Legislature and promulgate an ordinance
  3. If the SC concludes that the President or the Governor was influenced by ulterior motives to promulgate the ordinance, such an act by the two constitutional authorities would amount to a fraud on their powers
  4. Justice Chandrachud observed that the SC would scrutinise whether the satisfaction of the President or the Governor to promulgate an ordinance was based on relevant material or whether it amounted to a “fraud on power or was actuated by an oblique motive”
  5. The seminal question that came up in reference before the seven-judge Constitution Bench led by CJI Thakur dealt with the constitutionality of seven successive re-promulgations of The Bihar Non-Government Sanskrit Schools (Taking Over of Management and Control) Ordinance of 1989
  6. The State govt had approached the SC after the HC of Patna declared that repeated re-promulgation of the ordinances was unconstitutional
  7. It relied on the D.C. Wadhwa judgment on the dos and don’ts of promulgation of ordinances by another Constitution Bench of the SC in 1986
  8. The SC held that “re-promulgation of ordinances is a fraud on the Constitution and a subversion of democratic legislative processes”
  9. It also said that “The requirement of laying an ordinance before Parliament or the State Legislature is a mandatory constitutional obligation cast upon the government”

Note4students:

This is a very important judgment from mains point of view. Add these to your ordinance notes.

Electoral Reforms In India Indian Polity

Seeking votes on religious basis a corrupt act: SC

  1. Judgement: The SC held that an appeal for votes during elections on the basis of religion, caste, race, community or language, even that of the electorate, will amount to a ‘corrupt practice’ and call for disqualification of the candidate
  2. It said that religion is a very private relationship between man and his God
  3. Background: The question, referred to the Constitution Bench led by CJI Thakur on a batch of election petitions, was whether the word ‘his’ used in Section 123 (3) of the Representation of the People Act only meant a bar on appeals made in the name of the candidate or his rival or his agent or others in his immediate camp
  4. Or, does the word ‘his’ also extend to soliciting votes on the basis of the religion, caste, community, race, language of the electorate as a whole
  5. The latter would mean a blanket ban on any appeal, reference, campaign, discussion, dialogue or debate on the basis of religion, race, caste, community or language, even if such a debate was on the deprivations suffered by the voters due to these considerations
  6. The majority on the Bench interpreted that Parliament meant by ‘his’ a complete ban on any reference or appeal to religion, race, community, caste and language during elections
  7. This meant the pronoun extended to the social, linguistic and religious identity of the voter also
  8. CJI Thakur said appealing on the basis of religion would amount to “mixing religion with State power”
  9. According to him, “Elections to the State legislature or to the Parliament or for that matter any body in the State is a secular exercise just as the functions of the elected representatives must be secular in both outlook and practice”
  10. Majority view: Justice Lokur said the primary legislative aim of Section 123(3) of the RPA is to “curb communal and separatist tendencies in the country”
  11. He said that by allowing a candidate to take advantage of the voters’ religious identity merely to gain votes would be a disservice to the “little man” and against public interest
  12. Minority view: By Justice Chandrachud, “How can this be barred from being discussed in an election?”
  13. “Religion, caste and language are as much a symbol of social discrimination imposed on large segments of our society”
  14. “They are part of the central theme of the Constitution to produce a just social order. Electoral politics in a democratic polity is about social mobilisation”

Note4students:

This is a very important judgment. It remains to be seen how it will be implemented, and how political parties will deal with it. Also note, the Representation of Peoples Act is the only law mentioned in UPSC syllabus by name. Issues related to it are important.

Back2basics:

The Representation of People Act, 1951 is an act of Parliament of India to provide for the conduct of elections of the Houses of Parliament and to the House or Houses of the Legislature of each State, the qualifications and disqualifications for membership of those Houses, the corrupt practices and other offences at or in connection with such elections and the decision of doubts and disputes arising out of or in connection with such elections. The Act was enacted by the provisional parliament under Article 327 of Indian Constitution, before the first general election.

Lodha committee’s recommendations on the BCCI Governance

Nobody can escape the verdict from the highest court of the land: Lodha

  1. What: On Monday, the SC, acting on the third Status report and also on the previous ones, removed president Anurag Thakur and secretary Ajay Shirke from their posts
  2. Why: Not much has changed since the SC’s decision to validate the Justice Lodha committee’s report on reforms in cricket
  3. The reforms proposed a complete makeover of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) in order to rid the system of a group of individuals who had held on to power for a long time
  4. In the last 5 1/2 months, the SC and the member committee of Justice R.M. Lodha, Ashok Bhan and R.M. Raveendran found that the majority of the BCCI members did not show any inclination in complying with the recommendations before the deadline of Dec 15, 2016
  5. The Lodha Committee filed three Status reports explaining the impediments faced by it in implementing its own recommendations as mandated by the SC
  6. Twice, the Committee proposed to the apex court that the principal office-bearers of the BCCI be replaced by a panel of administrators from within the Board
  7. In its last Status report, the Committee stated that since the SC had accepted its recommendations almost in toto, those who came under the purview of its recommendations stand disqualified or cease to exist
  8. Future action: It’s expected that, most probably on Jan 19, the Committee of Administrators will come into existence
  9. They will ensure that the BCCI’s Memorandum of Association, Rules and Regulations is replaced by the one authored by the Justice Lodha Committee
  10. Clearly, the SC wants the BCCI itself to be part and parcel of the implementation process with the Committee of Administrators playing the facilitator role

Note4students:

All SC judgments are important for mains.

Back2basics:

The Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) is the national governing body for cricket in India. The board was formed in December 1928 as a society, registered under the Tamil Nadu Societies Registration Act. A consortium of state cricket associations and the state associations select their representatives who in turn elect the BCCI officials. BCCI does not depend on the Government of India for its finances.

Remission power lies with State: SC

  1. What: The SC noted that the power to grant remission is exclusively that of the State govt and not the judiciary
  2. Hence, it refrained itself from allowing any reprieve to four convicts who have served 25 years of their life sentence for the murder of an elderly couple in Kolkata in 1991
  3. A Bench in its recent judgment, said that the convicts have suffered incarceration for more than 25 years and, therefore, there should be a chance for remission of further prison sentence
  4. But the court declined to intervene, simply observing that “this is a power which can be exercised by the State”
  5. Background: The judgment is in sync with the TN govt’s review petition on the question of who has the actual authority — the Centre or the State — in granting remission for life convicts in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case
  6. TN has sought a review of the Constitution Bench verdict in the high-profile case
  7. It has argued that the State govt and its officials are the most competent to decide whether a life term convict deserves to be granted remission
  8. The Constitution Bench had held that the Centre and not the State enjoyed “primacy” in deciding whether the seven life convicts in the former Prime Minister’s assassination case should be granted remission
  9. Hence, this latest judgement is a reversal of the earlier one

Note4students:

Revise the pardoning powers of President and Governor from Laxmikanth.

2016 saw judiciary-govt. hostility

  1. The year 2016 has been marked by the hostile interface between the judiciary and the govt like never before over delay in judicial appointments
  2. It started with the SC striking down the NDA government’s NJAC laws at the end of 2015
  3. The year started with CJI Thakur declaring it to be the ‘Year of Appointments’, thus making his intention clear to fill the hundreds of judicial vacancies owing to the NJAC litigation in the SC during the large part of 2015
  4. In April, an emotional CJI Thakur, during a public function attended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, accused the govt of stalling judicial appointments
  5. The govt hit back in court that the judiciary itself was to blame for the delay in appointment of HC judges
  6. CJI Thakur threatened judicial action against the govt for not filling over 440 vacancies
  7. Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad parried by asking why the HCs have not done anything to fill over 4,900 vacancies in subordinate judiciary all over the country
  8. Other important judgements: SC compelled the Centre to conduct a floor test in the Uttarakhand Legislative Assembly following the declaration of President’s rule in the State
  9. It restored democracy by putting the Congress-led Harish Rawat government back in power
  10. The Constitution Bench upheld the independence of the Legislative Speaker by quashing the Arunachal Pradesh Governor’s decision to advance the Assembly hearing
  11. The SC held WB’s acquisition of land for Tata’s Nano car factory under the emergency clause as unconstitutional
  12. It observed that the brunt of development should not be borne by the weakest sections of the society
  13. Sports: The SC supported the Justice R.M. Lodha Committee recommendations to usher in transparency within the BCCI
  14. It upheld the right to clean environment by imposing a blanket ban on the sale and manufacture of firecrackers in the National Capital Region
  15. The Supreme Court agreed to have a back-to-roots and in-depth hearing of the LGBT community’s legal struggle against the criminalisation of consensual sexual acts under Section 377 of the Indian Penal Code
  16. Cauvery: It intervened in the Cauvery river water dispute between Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, ensuring that Karnataka released 2000 cusecs of water to Tamil Nadu
  17. It further dismissed the Centre’s plea that the apex court has no jurisdiction over the dispute

Note4students:

This is a useful summary of the more important SC judgments this year. For a comprehensive list of SC judgements recently, click here.

SC criticises poor implementation of SC/ST Act

  1. What: The SC criticised the govt for its “indifferent attitude” towards the implementation of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act
  2. It also directed the National Legal Services Authority to frame schemes for spreading legal awareness and free consultations to members of the SC/ST communities nationwide
  3. It said the constitutional goal of equality for all the citizens can be achieved only when the rights of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are protected

Back2basics:

1. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2015, was passed by Parliament earlier this year. The principal Act which the legislation has amended is called the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The 1989 Act was for the purpose of implementing Article 17 of the Indian Constitution.

2. The amended bill expands the list of atrocities and names specific offences such as garlanding with footwear or parading naked or semi-naked. It outlines the duties of public servants to enhance more accountability—including reading out to an informant the information given orally to protect those who may be illiterate—and proposes to establish exclusive courts and provides for socio-economic rehabilitation during investigation, inquiry and trial as well as relocation if needed to victims, their dependents, informants or witnesses.

3. Some of the other offences listed in the legislation includes assaulting or sexually exploiting a woman from an SC or ST community, wrongfully occupying land belonging to SCs or STs, forcing them to dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or do manual scavenging, imposing or threatening social or economic boycott, forcing them to vote or not to vote for someone particular or abusing them by caste names in public.

4. The National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) has been constituted under the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to provide free Legal Services to the weaker sections of the society and to organize Lok Adalats for amicable settlement of disputes.

5. The Chief Justice of India is patron-in-chief of NALSA while second seniormost judge of SC of India is the Executive-Chairman. There is a provision for similar mechanism at state and district level also headed by Chief Justice of HCs and Chief Judges of District courts respectively. The prime objective of NALSA is speedy disposal of cases and reducing the burden of judiciary.

J&K- The issues around the state Internal Security

J&K has no sovereignty: SC

  1. What: The SC has held Jammu and Kashmir has “no vestige” of sovereignty outside the Indian Constitution, and citizens of the State are “first and foremost” citizens of India
  2. Context: It made this observation while describing as “wholly incorrect” the conclusion arrived at by the J&K HC
  3. The HC had said that the State has “absolute sovereign power” to legislate laws touching the rights of its permanent residents regarding their immovable properties
  4. The SC said the J&K Constitution is subordinate to the Constitution of India
  5. It said this while holding that provisions of the SARFAESI Act, 2002, are within the legislative competence of Parliament and can be enforced in J&K
  6. The State Bank of India had appealed against the HC verdict which held that the SARFAESI Act would collide with the Transfer of Property Act of Jammu & Kashmir, 1920
  7. The SC set aside the verdict of the High Court that held that any law made by Parliament which affects the laws made by a State legislature cannot be extended to J&K

Note4students:

1. This is an important topic for mains. A question on J&K’s special status came in the mains this years. Adding such judgments will help to distinguish your answer.

2. Task for students: Revise the chapter on J&K’s special status from Laxmikanth.

Note ban: No interim relief from SC

  1. What: The SC ordered the setting up of a 5-judge Constitution Bench to test the validity of a Nov 8 demonetisation notification and the legality of the govt’s implementation of the policy
  2. It said the issue of demonetisation was of public importance and has a far-reaching consequence
  3. The questions include whether there were violations of Articles 14, 19, 21 and 300A of the Constitution
  4. The SC said it trusted the govt to be the best judge of its own economic and fiscal policies
  5. It placed its faith in the govt’s assurances that the policy was triggered to weed out black money, counterfeit currency and choke terror funding

Note4students:

This is an important issue. The constitutional questions mentioned here were covered in this news card.

SC upholds IAF decision to sack airman for sporting beard

  1. What: The SC upheld the decision of the Air Force to dismiss a Muslim airman for growing a beard citing religious grounds
  2. It noted that “every Armed Force raised in a civilised nation has its own ‘Dress and Deportment’ Policy”
  3. The SC held that under the Armed Forces Regulations of 1964 the “touchstone for being allowed to grow one’s hair or to retain a beard is where there is a religious command which prohibits either the hair being cut or a beard being shaved”
  4. Otherwise, discipline and uniformity have precedence over the fundamental right to religion in the Forces
  5. The court had sought an opinion from senior advocate Salman Khurshid, who said growing a beard was only “desirable” in Islam
  6. For the effective and thorough functioning of a large combat force, the members of the Force must bond together by a sense of espirit-de-corps, without distinctions of caste, creed, colour or religion
  7. Uniformity of personal appearance is quintessential to a cohesive, disciplined and coordinated functioning of an Armed Force
  8. The court held that Article 33 of the Constitution has the authority to impose restriction on the fundamental rights of Armed Forces personnel
  9. Reason: The “overarching necessity of a Force which has been raised to protect the nation is to maintain discipline”

Note4students:

This is an important judgement involving the armed forces, religious freedom and fundamental rights. It is very important from mains point of view.

Back2basics:

Article 33: Power of Parliament to modify the rights conferred by this Part in their application etc – Parliament may, by law, determine to what extent any of the rights conferred by this Part shall, in their application to,
(a) the members of the Armed Forces; or
(b) the members of the Forces charged with the maintenance of public order; or
(c) persons employed in any bureau or other organisation established by the State for purposes of intelligence or counter intelligence; or
(d) persons employed in, or in connection with, the telecommunication systems set up for the purposes of any Force, bureau or organisation referred to in clauses (a) to (c),

be restricted or abrogated so as to ensure the proper discharge of their duties and the maintenance of discipline among them

Road and Infrastructure Sector Infrastructure & Energy

SC bans liquor shops on national, state highways across India

  1. What: The SC ordered a ban on all liquor shops on national as well as state highways across the country
  2. And made it clear that licenses of existing shops will not be renewed after March 31 next year
  3. It also directed that all signages indicating presence of liquor vends will be prohibited on national and state highways
  4. Context: Last week, the apex court had expressed concern over 1.5 lakh fatalities every year in road mishaps
  5. The bench had also expressed unhappiness over alleged inaction by various states in removing liquor shops alongside roads which give rise to drunken driving and consequential fatalities
  6. It had said that revenue generation cannot be a “valid reason” for a state or a Union territory to give licence for liquor shops on highways and the authorities should adopt a positive attitude to remove the menace
  7. It had came down heavily on the Punjab govt for seeking relaxation and permitting liquor shops near highways
  8. Reminding the state govt of its constitutional obligation to prohibit liquor sale, the bench had asked the state to do something for general public considering that nearly 1.5 lakh people were dying every year
Child Protection & Child Rights in India Indian Society

Don’t brush child drug abuse under the carpet: SC to Centre

  1. What: The SC gave the Centre a 4-month deadline to formulate and adopt a comprehensive national plan to combat the rising menace of drug, alcohol abuse among children
  2. It also ordered the Centre to complete within six months a national survey and generate a national database on substance abuse
  3. It said the harmful effects of drugs, alcohol and tobacco abuse among children should be made a specific content in the school curriculum under the aegis of the New Education Policy proposed by the Centre
  4. The judgment quotes the sample study of the National Commission on Protection of Child Rights in August 2013
  5. The study showed that the mean age of onset was lowest for tobacco at 12.3 years, followed by onset of inhalants at 12.4 years, cannabis at 13.4 years, alcohol at 13.6 years
  6. It then leads to use of harder substances like opium, heroin at 14.3-14.9 years and then finally substances through injecting route at 15.1 years
  7. The judgment came on a petition filed by NGO Bachpan Bachao Andolan led by Nobel prize winner Kailash Sathyarthi
  8. The petition says that the fundamental rights of children, especially those suffering from and involved in substance use and abuse, were violated due to non-compliance with the govt’s action plan for reduction in drug demand and supply

SC notice to govt. on Asthana’s posting as interim CBI chief

  1. What: The SC sought the Centre’s response on a plea challenging the appointment of Rakesh Asthana as interim director of the CBI
  2. The petition filed by NGO Common Cause sought the quashing the appointment of Mr. Asthana as the interim/acting director of the CBI
  3. It contended that the appointment was made in violation of the mandatory conditions of imposed by the SC in the Vineet Narain case and Section 4A of the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946
  4. It said the Centre made the appointment in total defiance of the statutory procedure
  5. Procedure: The name of CBI Director, considered to be one of most independent and powerful positions in the country, should be finalised by a panel
  6. Panel composition: PM, Leader of the Single Largest Party in the LS and the CJI or a SC judge
  7. The petition alleged that the government bypassed this mandatory condition while appointing Mr. Asthana as acting director

Note4students:

Mainly important because it involves the CBI. Use this news as an opportunity to revise the Laxmikanth chapter on CBI.

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